Zong Pu, real name Feng Zhongpu, was born in Beijing in 1928. Her ancestral home is in Tanghe County, in Henan Province. She is the daughter of the renowned philosopher Feng Youlan. When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out, she fled with her father to Kunming, where she studied at the Affiliated Secondary School of the National Southwestern Associated University. She returned to Beijing in 1945. In 1946, she was accepted into the Foreign Languages Department at Nankai University. She then transferred to the Foreign Languages Department of Tsinghua University in 1948. In that same year, her first work, A.K.C, was published in Ta Kung Pao, the longest running newspaper of the People's Republic. In 1957, the publication of her short story, Red Bean, created a stir in the literary world. In the past, she has worked as an editor for the China Literature and Art Gazette and World Literature, as well as working as an associate researcher at the Foreign Literature Institute of the China Academy of Social Sciences. Her representative works include the short stories Red Bean and Dream on the Strings; the novella Everlasting Stone; the series of novels The Wild Gourd Prelude; and the essay Cascading Wisteria.
Zong Pu has carried on the Chinese intellectual viewpoint that "scholars should be devoted to moral justice". She uses her writing as a means of encouraging just behavior. Although Zong Pu exerts her role as a writer with great purpose and responsibility, a sense of romance and poetic simplicity nonetheless pervades her work. Zong Pu does not base her writing on a set of predefined principles, nor does she emulate new trends. In this sense, her work is organic: her writing results from her intuitive experiences. She represents her inner world by infusing her writing with her life experiences and aesthetic principles. This kind of authentic and organic writing demonstrates the wisdom and cultural traditions that the Chinese people have developed over the long course of history.
The short story that launched Zong Pu's career, Red Bean, evokes in vivid and delicate language the love affair between university students Jiang Mei and Qi Hong, which turns sour due to their different attitudes and political stances. The story tells the story of how two intellectuals choose their fate during a time of great change. Red Bean describes its characters inner turmoil in minute detail and has an elegant, subtle style. It differs greatly from previous modernist works, in that it largely focuses on conflict between principles and emotions. In recent years, Zong Pu has continued to work in spite of illness. After seven years, she finished the sequel to Southbound Journey, Chronicles of East Tibet, for which she won the 6th Mao Dun Literature Prize. Since then, she has published Conquest of the West and Return to the North, thus completing the The Wild Gourd Prelude series of novels. The series largely revolves around familial relations. It describes the separations and reunions of a family of intellectuals amid the turmoil and destruction of the Sino-Japanese War. The author's narrative style is detailed yet understated, while her use of language is elegant without being ornate. In this sprawling, ambitious series, individual fates and collective mentalities are slowly revealed through the seemingly banal details of everyday life. While Zong Pu doesn't speak in direct terms of the violence of war, psychological trauma is nonetheless ever-present throughout the series. Zong Pu artfully crafts a historical atmosphere and infuses her work with a palpable sense of culture. The reader is wholly immersed in a literary mood not unlike The Dream of the Red Chamber.
Zong Pu is greatly influenced by her father, Feng Youlan. She says, "I want to record the history of my father's generation... I couldn't bear it if the course of history rushed and surged, only to stop still next to me." Zong Pu uses fiction as a means of recording her life experiences and spiritual journey. Her works are therefore an authentic and organic representation of her personality, as well as her family's personal philosophy.